Sony Team Ambassador Alessandro Nesta, capped 78 times for Italy, runs the rule over the semi-finalists in Brazil and has real empathy with two of the star names who will be missing from the action.
Sony: Neymar and Angel Di Maria are both out injured for Brazil and Argentina respectively. You experienced that situation many times, at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea and again when you were forced to sit out the 2006 World Cup final in Germany due to injury. How bad is to be sidelined while your mates are fighting for the title?
Nesta: It hurts a lot. You know, the road to the World Cup is very long, you have to pass through the qualifications, then to the “real” World Cup, but nobody will remember what you’ve done during qualification. The moment is NOW. Passing it up sat on the bench or in the stands, it’s really hard.
Sony: Brazil will play without Thiago Silva, too, as he’s suspended. Will it be a heavy loss for the Selecao? Is his replacement, Dante, up to challenge?
Nesta: It will affect Brazil, for sure. They have some talented back-ups like Dante, but Thiago Silva can give his added value in terms of charisma, quality, everything. It will be a heavy absence for Brazil. Dante plays for Bayern Munich, so he knows many of the opponents, and above all he’s used to playing in important games.
Sony: There are very few players from Serie A in the semi-finals. But Colombia, one of the surprises of this tournament fielded many Italy-based stars.
Nesta: They played very well. One above all, Mario Yepes, who is 38 like me. We were mates at AC Milan – and in my opinion played an unbelievable World Cup, against Brazil he was absolutely impressive. In my opinion Colombia didn’t play 100 per cent against Brazil, some players didn’t perform as expected, that’s why they’ve been eliminated, otherwise they could have beaten Brazil.
Sony: What do you think about Mats Hummels in Germany’s defence? Many people describe him as the heir to Jurgen Kohler, do you agree?
Nesta: I like him – he’s been playing well for many years, not only now at the World Cup. He performed well at Borussia Dortmund, he’s an intelligent, smart defender who deserves to play at such a level. I believe he’s pretty different to Kohler, who was more an old-style marker – you know, football changed a lot during the last 20 years. Nowadays the defender has to build up the game too, he has to contribute to the game in a creative way, but 20 years ago it wasn’t like that. I don’t see too many similarities between them.